Pique vote leaves Spain in awkward spot
The events of this week in Barcelona will be a litmus test as to whether Spain have the guts and special magic to propel themselves to Russia.
Pique booed by fans whilst training with Spain.
Barcelona’s Gerard Pique was booed at a Spanish national team training session in Madrid following his comments on Catalonia’s independence referendum.
Pique voted in what the Spanish state deemed an illegal Catalan independence referendum. Pique was fiercely critical of how the Spanish government and their security forces reacted in Catalunya at the weekend. It’s also a fact that Pique has repeatedly said or done things that anger certain sectors of the football public around Spain. All of these elements ensured that his arrival to train with Lopetegui’s squad ahead of the two games that can seal World Cup qualification would bring some verbal hostility and opprobrium from fans and media. And it duly did.
But what really put the febrile world of Spanish football into a spin was what Pique said about La Roja and his international future, which is where I think it’s vital to make a specific point and clarify what actually happened in the Camp Nou mixed zone. Partly because accuracy is vital, and partly because the way in which Pique expressed himself will go a long way to ensuring the key people around him over the next nine days either accept or “live with” the phrases he used.
My point is that as the story of Pique being “willing to step aside from being selected for Spain” whizzed around the world, it was only his phrases that were reported. What I’ve not seen reported anywhere was that Pique certainly did not unilaterally volunteer that he was of a mood to retire from Spain duty early; after all, he’s already announced that after the World Cup in Russia, he’ll retire from international football.